Edwin Jackson gave up three runs on four hits in his start against the Indians on Friday, but that wasn’t the shocking part of what happened. Unbeknownst to manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio, Jackson threw all fastballs in his outing — 50 of them.
Via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat:
“I think maybe, as we talk about fastball command, maybe he was thinking, ‘I’m going to try to hit the spots,’” Renteria said. “He got into a little trouble yesterday and he had some elevated pitches and some pulled pitches. I think you have to kind of allow some flexibility in what he’s trying to do. In his mind’s eye, he had a particular idea of what he wanted to do and he did it for three innings.”
Was Renteria surprised at Jackson’s game plan?
“I saw a lot of fastballs,” Renteria said. “I’ll just say that I noticed it.”
According to FanGraphs, Jackson threw fastballs at his highest rate since 2009. Additionally, his fastball velocity was at its lowest since 2005 with the Dodgers.
Hitters last season posted a .370 weighted on-base average on Jackson’s fastball. For a nifty comparison, Jose Bautista posted a .372 wOBA last season, so hitters essentially were like Bautista against Jackson’s heaters. One can understand the right-hander’s insistence on improving it.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.